Staging Beckett: The Impact of Productions of Samuel Beckett's Drama on Theatre Practice and Cultures in the United Kingdom and Ireland

Staging Beckett: Constructing Performance Histories - Inaugural Conference 2014

More information and a link to online registration here


Aims of the project

Research outputs

This research project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and runs from 2012-2015. The University of Reading, alongside project partners, the University of Chester and the Victoria and Albert Museum, will be creating a database and research materials relating to all professional productions of Beckett's theatre throughout the UK and Ireland.

It will draw on original archival material in the University of Reading's world-leading Beckett Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum's Theatre and Performance archives in London, and other archive collections across Britain and Ireland. The project will examine the role Samuel Beckett played in shaping modern theatre practice in the UK and Ireland and will enable a unique picture of British and Irish theatres to emerge through their approaches to staging Beckett.

The project will be a pilot for a national performance database which will hold information about UK past and future performances. Once the Staging Beckett project is completed in 2015, the V&A plans to make the Beckett database available online as a resource for researchers, linked to a project website at the University of Reading.

The Staging Beckett project is led by Professor Anna McMullan (University of Reading), Dr Graham Saunders (University of Reading) and Professor David Pattie (University of Chester), in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum. Our team includes two postdoctoral researchers, Dr Patricia McTighe (Reading) and Dr David Tucker (Chester), and a PhD student, Matthew McFrederick.

The Staging Beckett blog

You can find the latest news from the project on our blog: The Staging Beckett Blog

Aims of the Project

(i)To research and analyse professional metropolitan, regional and touring productions of Beckett's work in the UK and Republic of Ireland since 1955.

(ii) To develop an understanding of whether a distinct British and Irish aesthetic of performing, designing and directing Beckett's theatre has evolved since the first London and Dublin productions of Waiting for Godot in 1955.

(iii) To investigate the impact of productions of Beckett's drama on British and Irish theatre practice in directing, acting and design, and on theatre cultures more generally (such as programming and reviewing).

(iv) To consult, analyse and bring to the attention of researchers, practitioners and the public material relating to productions of Beckett from a number of new and under exploited British and Irish archives.

(v) To create and compile a performance database (in collaboration with the V&A) of British and Irish productions of Beckett's drama since 1955 as a resource for students, academics, theatre practitioners and the wider public. The Beckett database will also be part of a larger scheme for a performing arts database.

(vi) To conduct a series of interviews with British and Irish theatre practitioners involved in professional productions of Beckett's work since 1955.

(vii) To disseminate research findings to academic and theatre communities and the public through the database, website and through two conferences held in years two and three, and a three day international conference held in year three. These will be complemented by annual public lectures hosted at each of the project institutions by a prominent theatre practitioner with significant involvement in Beckett's work.

Research Outputs

Publications

Tucker, David, '"Oh Lovely Art": Beckett and Music', in The Edinburgh Companion to Samuel Beckett and the Arts, ed S.E. Gontarski, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014, pp. 373-385.

McMullan, Anna, 'Designing Beckett: Jocelyn Herbert's Contribution to Samuel Beckett's Theatrical Aesthetics', in The Edinburgh Companion to Samuel Beckett and the Arts, ed S.E. Gontarski, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014, pp. 409-422.

Tucker, David, A Dream and its Legacies: The Samuel Beckett Theatre Project, Oxford c.1967-76, Oxford: Colin Smythe, Ltd, 2013. [Book]

McTighe, Patricia,'"Getting known": Beckett, Ireland and the Creative Industries', in That Was Us: Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance, ed Fintan Walsh, London: Oberon Books, 2013, pp. 157-172. [Book chapter]

Public Talk

Rickson, Ian, In Conversation with Mark Taylor-Batty, public talk hosted by the AHRC Staging Beckett project in association with the Beckett International Foundation, Minghella Building, University of Reading, October 3rd, 2013.

Exhibition

McMullan, Anna, with Siobhan Wootton, Matthew McFrederick, David Tucker and Patricia McTighe, 'Staging Krapp's Last Tape', public exhibition of selected archival materials relating to diverse productions of Krapp's Last Tape in the UK and Ireland, from the University of Reading's Beckett Collection, and other archives such as the Jocelyn Herbert Archive, Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts, London. Minghella Building, University of Reading. Accompanied the Ian Rickson Conversation, October 3rd, 2013.

Conference Papers, Invited talks and Outreach Workshops

McTighe, Patricia, Workshop on Waiting for Godot, Lagan College. Belfast (sixth form students), 16th October 2013, looking at the play-text and performance histories using material gathered through project related research.

McTighe, Patricia, '"You and your landscapes!": A Sense of Place in Productions of Beckett's Work on the Irish Stage', conference paper given at the 'Beckett and the State of Ireland' conference, University College Dublin, August 2-3, 2013.

McMullan, Anna, McTighe, Patricia, Pattie, David and Tucker, David, 'Staging Beckett: Samuel Beckett's Impact on Theatre Practice in the UK and Ireland from 1955 to the twenty-first century', Collaboratively authored paper given at the International Federation for Theatre Research / Fédération Internationale pour la Recherche Théâtrale (IFTR/FIRT), Barcelona, 22-26 July 2013.

McFrederick, Matthew, Double-Acts in Waiting for Godot: Clowning, Music Hall and Movie Stars on the London Stage, conference paper given to the New Scholars Forum, IFTR/FIRT, Barcelona, July 22-26, 2013.

Tucker, David, 'Staging Beckett: After the Fact', contribution to a panel discussion on Beckett: After the Fact, London Beckett Seminar, Birkbeck College, University of London, 27 June 2013.

Pattie, David, 'The Arrival of Godot: Beckett, British Theatre and the 1950s', invited lecture given as part of the St John's College Oxford Debts and Legacies seminar series, May 7th, 2013.

McTighe, Patricia, 'In Connemara: Domesticating the work of Samuel Beckett on the Irish Stage', Conference paper given at the Beckett at Reading 2013 conference organised by the Beckett International Foundation, 4-7 April 2013

Tucker, David, 'The Samuel Beckett Theatre, Oxford, c.1967-71', Paper given at the Beckett at Reading 2013 conference, organised by the Beckett International Foundation, 4-7 April 2013.

Staging Beckett Inaugural Conference April 2014

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